Ben Affleck hopes that his latest movie, “The Last Duel,” will generate “a lot of catharsis and empathy” among audiences of the Ridley Scott-directed historical epic, which premieres Friday at the Venice Film Festival.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Affleck said the story is “one that I hoped would develop in the viewer a sense of compassion, and the idea that we might look at one other in a different way, and with more empathy, and with the sense of wondering whether or not our personal perspective might not take into consideration completely the other person’s reality, history, culture and education.”
Based on actual events, “The Last Duel” is a tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France. The story centers on an accusation by Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), the wife of Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), that Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) sexually assaulted her. The fate of all three must be decided in a duel to the death.
Affleck said the character of Marguerite was a primary draw for him in making the film.
The actor, who arrived in Venice on Thursday with girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, praised Marguerite’s “extraordinary strength and bravery.” Meanwhile, he characterized the story as one focused on a person “who has been done a great injustice and goes to great lengths to seek justice at great risk to themselves.”
He said that “it was important and interesting to tell a story that wasn’t just an indictment of one bad person but that pointed to the cultural antecedent that Europe and countries colonized by European countries share, which is one that didn’t view women for many, many centuries as human beings, and in fact many residual aspects of that perspective remain.”
The screenplay is by Nicole Holofcener, Affleck and Damon, based on the book by Eric Jager. The film is produced by Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Jennifer Fox, Holofcener, Damon and Affleck.
Scott is the recipient of the Cartier Glory to the Filmmaker award of the festival, “dedicated to a personality who has made a particularly original contribution to the contemporary film industry.” The award ceremony will take place on Friday in the Palazzo del Cinema, before the screening of “The Last Duel.”
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